Heading into Tuesday’s clash with Trinidad & Tobago, just one spot in the U.S. Men’s National Team lineup is guaranteed. Tim Howard will be making the start in goal for the U.S. after missing out on the prior game, but it is the status of the team’s 17-year-old star that has been the topic featuring the most debate.
One player that could join Howard in the starting lineup is Christian Pulisic, who shined with two goals and an assist in Friday’s 6-0 win over Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. The pair of finishes made him the youngest player to ever score for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying while also sealing the record for youngest USMNT player to record a brace. To date, Pulisic has made seven appearances for the U.S., scoring three goals despite not earning a start in his young international career.
Jurgen Klinsmann says he is fully aware of the importance of giving a “special talent” like Pulisic his minutes as he continues to assimilate into the group of U.S. regulars. However, the USMNT boss says he has to make sure the time is right for him to experience the challenges that will come with the international game.
“There will be setbacks throughout his career, but right now it’s going very smooth for him,” Klinsmann said. “We’re hoping that, when he gets back to Dortmund, he gets his minutes there too. It’s not easy. They are fully loaded on their roster. We bring him along and when I have the feeling that I need to hold him back a little bit, I will hold him back. When I have the feeling that I need to let him go, I will give him a go. Having him now and seeing that learning curve also throughout the Copa America, as coaches, it’s important to see every training session and how he progresses and how he gets more confident and takes people on. It’s fun to watch.
“I would say he’s ahead of his curve, probably,” Klinsmann added. “Physically, already, it doesn’t seem like he’s behind physically in any way. That’s impressive. Some, they build earlier, and some kids it takes until they’re 21, 22, 23 to get that stability and that strength. He seems to be an early development and we are happy to take it that way. There’s also the mental growth. That’s an aspect and we want to make sure that we’re not overshooting him.”
What do you think? Is Pulisic ready to join the starting lineup, or should Klinsmann be wary of giving the 17-year-old winger too much, too soon?
Have your say in Tuesday’s SBI reader poll and state your reasoning in the comment section below.